Books

Rehashing 'Becoming a Marihuana User'

Alice Mills

A short and pleasant little tour with Howard S. Becker into the world of marihuana.


Becoming a Marihuana User

Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Author: Howard S. Becker
Publication date: 2015-06
Amazon

Whether you’re 18, 28 or even 78 years old, maybe there's a part of you that has always fancied yourself as a bit of a weed loving, skunk smoking Bob Marley. But even if you don’t fall into this category, Howard S. Becker’s Becoming a Marihuana User is more than a humorous ‘how to’ guide to the ways of pot; it's a “short little tour” into the world of marihuana and how it has become more than just an accessory to make you look badass in front of all your friends.

Becker previously published this as an article in 1953 with little reaction; however, with growing relevance in today’s culture such as the legalisation of the drug for certain medical usage, Becker’s studies developed a significantly larger interest this time around. An additional prelude has been added, where Becker explains the process of his first publication and the change of interest towards his studies through the years. This is interesting in itself to purely see how marihuana has become a larger and perhaps less taboo substance, since the '50s.

A social discovery and an exploration into the key question of whether the effect of drugs must be learnt and recognised for them to be truly experienced, the book explores marihuana use in a way that perhaps no one has done before. The book doesn’t promote or discourage drug use as such, it just explores drug use and how a user becomes a user in the first place.

Becker explains how a ‘novice’ knows the concept of getting high but not what that actually means until it's experienced. It's not until the novice becomes high and can link the drug with sensations of pleasure that continued use begins. That's an interesting argument that in order to truly understand a situation, you must experience it.

The book somehow manages to merge an almost scientific experiment with real life experiences. Between each section/chapter is a quote from a marihuana user that explains their experience and little snippets of their history of getting high. There are a few interesting quotes and a lot of “yeah mans”, but they break up the chapters effectively and allow the scientific nature of the content to feel less dry.

The book is a funny, fairly thought-provoking little read for a spare half an hour on your morning commute, or something to pass the time in a waiting room. It probably won’t change your life or keep you up at night thinking about it, but it is interesting and an alternative approach to studying the effects and use of marihuana through the past 60 years.

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.